Jessie Diggins added another historic note to her cross-country skiing résumé Sunday, becoming the first American to finish in the top three of the Tour de Ski.
Diggins, of Afton, was third in the overall standings of the multi-stage event. In the final race Sunday — a 9-kilometer freestyle pursuit in Val di Fiemme, Italy — she started 10 seconds behind Krista Parmakoski of Finland, pulling even with Parmakoski before they began the climb up Alpe Cermis. On the steepest part of the ascent, Diggins charged ahead, then added to her lead through the rest of the race for a third-place finish that put her on the overall podium.
Norway’s Heidi Weng won Sunday’s race and repeated as overall champion. Diggins’ third place was the best finish ever by an American, topping her fifth place last year.
“I caught Krista maybe a third of the way on the flats, and we traded leads, working together to go faster,’’ said Diggins, a 2014 Olympian who will return to the Winter Games next month. “My strategy was just to keep the tempo high.
“What a day. I’m so happy with this Tour de Ski, and so proud of my teammates for racing so hard.’’
Diggins raced consistently through the grueling Tour de Ski, which consisted of six stage races over nine days in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Teammate Sadie Bjornsen finished ninth, marking the first time in Tour de Ski history that two Americans made the top 10.
Three more women — Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen and Rosie Brennan — qualified Sunday for next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Diggins, Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell were the first three named to the U.S. cross-country team. Randall, 35, is set to compete in her fifth Olympics.